Sanam Tiffany: The Ethics of Islam

There are three primary sources that discuss the ethics of Islam: The Quran, Prophetic Hadith, and Pre-Islamic Tradition. There are pillars of Islam, commandments, and Articles of Faith that dictate how Islamic people must treat the world around them, as well as how they must view their relationship with God.

The Five Pillars of Islam discuss the facets of worship that make up a good Muslim. These five pillars are the declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage. The declaration of faith refers to the devotion of oneself to Allah and all of his teachings and no other religion or God. Daily prayer refers to the fives times a day in which a Muslim person strengthens their relationship with God through prayer. Charity recognizes that wealth is given by God, and so wealth must be dispersed. As such, all people practicing Islam give a part of their money or objects away every year to the less fortunate. The fourth pillar discusses the fasting of Ramadan, which occurs once a year for a month as an act of spiritual devotion and cleansing. Lastly, a devoted Muslim will attend the Hajj to Mecca, which is considered the peak spiritual experience of most Muslims lives.

Like in almost all holy books, the Quran has several commandments that dictate the ethics and treatment of the world around an Islamic person. The first is similar to those in all holy books, and that commandment is to worship Allah and only Allah. This means casting belief in other Gods or deities to the side and accepting Allah as the one true God of Islamic Faith. The second is to always act kindly and respectfully towards one’s parents, who are, after Allah, the most important figures in an Islamic person’s life. Respect for one’s parents comes second only to a respect for God. The third commandment is to be wary of being wasteful, and to always spend money with this in mind. This means to lead not a life of opulence or luxury, but one of modest and comfortable means, almost as a reflection of one’s self. The fourth commandment states that a Muslim person cannot kill another person, even for the sake of hunger. It is said in the Quran that God will provide nourishment for those who truly follow Him, making killings with the intention of sustenance unnecessary and therefore sinful. The fifth injunction states that a Muslim person many never engage in adultery, for it is a sinful deed that leads only to more sin and evil in future actions. A Muslim must always respect their family and the holiness of their bond with that family, and to commit adultery is to lack this respect all together. The sixth commandment dictates that no Islamic person may kill unjustly, and that the murder of another person lacks sin only if the cause of that death is truly, truly just. The seventh states to take care of orphaned children, providing family for those without any. The eighth states that a true Muslim person but always be dependable and keep all promises. In lieu of the eighth commandment, the ninth states that in all interactions with other people, a person of Islamic faith must always be honest and fair. This means a person must never lie, and must always attempt to understand the other side of the conversation rather than speak from a subjective and authoritative place. The tenth furthers the notion that a Muslim person must not act with authority or arrogance, and must never act pretentiously or like they are more right than anyone else. This means to respect other’s beliefs as well as your own and to not hold your own to a higher standard. Throughout the Islamic Quranic commandments, the “Golden Rule” is reiterated time and time again: to treat others the way you would like to be treated.

There are also Six Articles of Faith depicted in the Islamic tradition. The first Article echoes the same message as the first commandment, demonstrating again its importance within Islam; a Muslim must only believe in one God, and that God must be Allah. To follow any other Gods or to deny Allah is to deny the Islamic faith. The second Article states that a person following Islam must also believe in angels, as Allah created them as helpers to keep the purity of his kingdom, and to deny their existence is to deny facts about God. The third Article states that a Muslim person must believe in all the Prophets of God, for to deny their word is to deny the word of God. To not believe in the Prophets of God is also to ignore parts of the Quran, which is followed by all true Islamic persons. The fourth Article states that people of Islamic faith believe in the one true book of God, that being the Quran. Though God’s word is featured in other holy books, Muslims believe that only the Quran has retained the true word of God without distortion throughout time. The fifth Article of Faith states that Muslim people must believe in the concept of Judgement Day, in which God will individually judge every person on the Earth for their worthiness of Heaven (or, alternatively, Hell) based on their sins and devotion to Islam. The last Article states that Muslims must believe that nothing happens unless by God’s will. Islamic persons who follow God’s will understand that His divinity and knowledge will take care of them at all times, so they do not doubt Him in times of hardship.

The combinations of all of these facets make up Islamic ethics, which all Muslim people must follow as part of their devotion to God.